Usernames are part of modern life, everybody has them for several online needs and most of the time we don’t think about it. Neither do our kids nor our teens.
Well, if in adult life not thinking about safe usernames might lead us to higher chances of identity theft situations, for a kid there are 3 serious reasons for us to be careful:
1 – Grooming: predators are always looking for relevant information to connect and bond. A basic hint is to not use any name (first/middle/last), location or birth information in a username. You should also avoid any kid’s personal preferences like a favorite character name or a local sports team reference.
2 – Bullying: for convenience we use the same username for multiple online interactions, kids do that too and many times their in-game user name is the same they will use later on social media. In a bullying scenario it’s not uncommon for victims to be pursued on multiple platforms, so using the same user name facilitates perpetration of a bullying scenario.
3 – Identity theft: predators use different methods to extract data from gamers and each game has specific monetization dynamics. Fraudsters are looking for tokens, gift cards or credit card information. Most scams are unsophisticated, but scammers always try to seduce kids by promising special promotions, items etc. Talk with your kids about not trusting tempting offers and explaining what phishing is.
Call to action: Review your kid’s’ current usernames (and yours too!) and spread the word among family and friends.